Selma Brackman

individual

Overview

  • Executive director of War and Peace Foundation
  • Board member of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • Member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Born in Far Rockaway, New York on October 27, 1922, Selma Brackman was the executive director of the War and Peace Foundation, which she co-founded in 1981 with her husband, media critic Arthur Brackman.

Ms. Brackman was a frequent lecturer at several New York City universities on such issues as disarmament, child soldiers, the Patriot Act, poverty, the history of warfare, and America’s allegedly disgraceful history of inhumanity toward the rest of the world. She is an active board member of Professionals for Social Responsibility; the NGO Committee on Disarmament; the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; and the World Federalists. She was also a member of the Women’s international League for Peace and Freedom.

A mother of five children, Brackman became actively involved in the anti-war movement during the late 1960s. In 1968 she organized the Peace Worker Women’s Strike for Peace. The following year she organized the National Teach-In On World Community at Columbia University.

Brackman despised the United States, deeming it a nation whose history was marked most notably by oppression, aggression, injustice, violence, and racism. Her commentary on America was consistently and overwhelmingly condemnatory. Post-9/11, she spoke out against U.S. military interventions abroad, and she depicted the Patriot Act’s counter-terrorism measures as ominous assaults on civil liberties. Arguing that the U.S. government’s ultimate objective was “to establish unilateral control of the world,” Brackman characterized American history as a narrative punctuated on every line by oppression and mass murder. Giving voice to this view, on November 21, 2003 she told a Rutgers University audience:

“By the end of 1945, [American atomic bombs] had killed over 220,000 human beings. Our historical victory over the Japanese, who by all accounts were already preparing to surrender, not only ended World War II, it also established the United States as a global force to be reckoned with…. And so, with our egos in hand, we gave birth to the Nuclear Era. We had created a monster. The U.S. has led in all matters nuclear…. The nuclear weapon has gone from being a last-resort, special class weapon to the new mainstream weapon of choice; this is largely as a result of American initiative.”

Brackman considered U.S. military spending to be a largely unnecessary and immoral act of governmental ego-gratification that diverted crucial resources away from the world’s poor. Though she saw no justification for America using its military might to address international crises, she deemed it America’s responsibility to feed the world’s hungry. “We could feed, clothe, give adequate shelter to every human being on earth what we spend every 17 days on arms,” she said in 2003. “Now that is a crime against humanity in and of itself.”

On February 25, 2003, Brackman addressed an audience at New York City’s Metropolitan College; her focus was twofold: the alleged injustice of the War in Iraq, and what she viewed as the moral and military atrocities that America had committed throughout its history. “Bush won’t tell America the truth about why we are going to war, what is at stake,” she said. “It is not an axis of evil but oil, money, personal via corporate gain at the expense of people’s lives. Saddam’s misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oil field in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesn’t, won’t. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat but the economic imperative of US growth.”

After taking a moment to praise “committed socialists” like Eugene Debs and Helen Keller for opposing World War I, Brackman went on to discuss her views on the reasons why America had entered into World War II:

“Britain and the United States opposed fascism only because it threatened their own control over resources and people. . . . How could one reconcile the United States fighting in World War II for the rights of nations to independence and self determination, with its history of expansion, its 100-year war against native Indians driving them off their ancestral lands, its 250 years of enslavement of Africans, it’s war with Mexico, and taking almost half their lands and sending marines almost 20 times into the countries of the Caribbean? Seizing Hawaii and fighting a brutal war to subjugate the Philippines. And sending of 5,000 marines into Nicaragua in 1929. This nation could hardly claim to believe in the rights of self determination. Neither the invasion of Austria, nor Czechoslovakia nor Poland, brought the United States into armed conflict with fascism. We went to war only when our processions in Hawaii were attacked and when our navy was disabled by Japanese bombs.”

Depicting the United States as a society more evil than Hitler’s Germany, Brackman once wrote:

“In 1942, Goebbels, minister of propaganda for Hitler’s Germany, wrote in his diary: ‘At bottom I believe that both the English and Americans are happy that we are [exterminating] the Jewish population.’ It seemed that in Washington, they waited and waited until at large they killed six million Jews. A world war was an opportunity for the United States businesses to penetrate areas that until that time had been dominated by England. If the war was truly a war of moral purpose against the Nazi idea of superior and inferior races, than we might have seen [an effort] by the United States government to eliminate racial segregation here. No such thing happened. The war was not being fought to disturb class privilege, and the blacks were housed separately, and there were many protests on the hypocrisy of a war against fascism in a nation which does nothing about racism here. A Negro – angry, resentful, and utterly apathetic about the war – wrote: ‘Fighting for what? . . . The army Jim Crows us. The Navy lets us serve only as mess men. Employers and labor unions shut us out. Lynchings continue. We are disenfranchised, spat upon. What more could Hitler do than that?”

Among Brackman’s fellow board members at the War and Peace Foundation are Helen Caldicott, Ramsey Clark, Richard FalkDavid Krieger, Alice Slater, and Howard Zinn.

Brackman died on September 23, 2010.

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